Spirited Blog!

Maple Syrup Magic & Lore

Here in New York we are in the midst of maple syrup season! 🍁🌙🍁

March 18th-19th and March 25th-26th are “Maple Weekends” where you can visit local farms to see how maple syrup is made, have a pancake breakfast, and eat a bit of sweet maple candy.

As a folk witch, I enjoy connecting with the local land and its lore, as well as learning about the magical properties of the beautiful plant spirits who are part of the ecosystem. I wanted to share with you the Mohawk legend of maple syrup to honor the beautiful maple trees who give us this delicious treat this time of year and my Mohawk ancestor Ots Toch. After all, we should not forget that it was the Native Americans who taught European settlers how to tap maple trees and make the syrup we all love! 🍁


“Long ago, when human beings were new in the eastern part of Turtle Island, they barely lived through the long winters, their bodies and spirits weakened by the cold and dark. Though they worked to gather and preserve enough food for the winter it was not enough to keep them well and strong. The Creator saw the sadness of the people so he decided to ask the tree nation if there was something which could be done to restore their happiness.

The leader of the trees, the maple, offered to give its blood to the people so they may be restored to good health. So it was, that at the end of the winter months the sap flowed freely from the maple. The sap was dark and sweet, a syrup which the people drank after putting basswood tubes into the trees so the precious fluid went into their pots almost without effort. Satisfied that the people were once again happy and strong the Creator left to attend to his duties in other worlds.

Some time passed before the Creator was able to return to this world. It was once again the end of winter with snow still on the ground. He went to one of the villages only to find it empty, the longhouses cold with only ashes in the fire pits. He saw that there were tracks leading into the nearby woods which he followed. Soon he came upon a maple bush and there, scattered about on the ground were the people, with wooden tubes connecting the maples and their mouths. They were drinking the syrup from the trees until they could no longer stand. Even their dogs were laying on the ground, their paws raised to the sky with their own tubes into the trees. The Creator saw that the people were ragged and the children uncared for. He was very upset

He aroused them from their slumber and said that he would change the way in which the syrup was to be taken from the trees. No longer would it flow brown and thick but the people would have to make offerings to the maples, tap its sap and then work to make it into syrup and then sugar. By doing so they would come to appreciate this great gift.”

George-Kanentiio, Doug (2011, May 10). A Mohawk Legend: The Origins of Maple Syrup and Sugar. https://gcvblogblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/a-maple-syrup-origin-story/


I also wanted to share the special magical properties of maple. Maple trees are said to protect against evil spirits but also to have a gentle and loving nature. Maple branches are often used to make talking sticks because of their gentleness.

Maples are considered to be very wise, provide spiritual healing, open doors to the unseen worlds, and help with decision making. Maple is used in love magic, moon magic, abundance spells, healing spells, and divination.

When I connect to maple, she feels like a friend I could tell my troubles to. Someone who would have an open ear, a kind word, sage advice, and a sweet embrace – if not a bit sappy in the best of ways lol!


One idea for maple syrup in your magic would be to lovingly ask the spirit of the maple syrup to soothe something that is troubling you and shift it into something sweet – a positive outcome.

  1. Get a small glass vial (Visit the Dollar Tree for a pack of small vials for only $1.25).
  2. On a small piece of paper write what is troubling you or draw a symbol for it.
  3. Roll up the small piece of paper, put it in your vial and fill the vial with maple syrup. Maple syrup is expensive – hence the small vial!
  4. Close the top tightly and take the vial in your hand.
  5. Place it right against your heart and firmly speak your troubles to the beautiful spirit of the maple. Ask her lovingly to shift what is bothering you or to provide you with the healing, wisdom or change in perspective needed to move forward. Ask that what is sour is transformed into something sweet like the maple syrup.
  6. Thank the loving and gentle spirit of the maple syrup. Take a moment to pour your love into the vial as an offering to the beautiful spirit of the maple tree who gifted the sap to make the syrup.
  7. Place the vial on your altar and feed the spirit of the maple syrup through lighting a candle (you can get a 7-day candle also at the Dollar Tree for $1.25) for at least three evenings (a couple of hours each night should do it – don’t leave the candle lit overnight). Continue to set your intentions and give gratitude each day you light the candle.

An “Urglaawe” Soul Rescue for PA Dutch Earthbound Spirits

Have you ever heard of Urglaawe? Urglaawe is a Heathen tradition in America that has developed from Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, mythology, folk healing and magical practices (“Braucherei” – folk magic for healing & protection & “Hexerie” – witchcraft). I recently discovered this homegrown form of Heathenry stemming from Germanic PA Dutch descendants.

Their ancestors came over from Germany during the Thirty Years War and were often called “German Palatines” here in New World. These are my ancestors too on my father’s side who came to New York in 1710 on a ship called the Leon. From there, some of my German ancestors continued onward to Pennsylvania and others settled in the Schoharie Valley and Hills of New York. These German immigrants kept their folk healing and magical traditions often Christianized as one would expect for that time. I am presently working on a short compilation of folklore regarding such practices here in New York called “Granny Apple Magic.” This title reflects that “granny” was a term for certain witches in NY folklore…and apples, well they go together with New York like PB&J.

Urglaawe presents a rich and vibrant lore regarding psychopompery – the transition of souls to the afterlife. I have been a practicing psychopomp for earthbound souls (a.k.a, “ghosts”) for a decade. Much of this work is done through astral travel at night where I find individuals, or more often groups of earthbound souls, that my guides would like me to help. I spent last night among the earthbound dead of the Pennsylvania Dutch.

As I interacted with a community of women, men and children dressed in Amish clothes, a group of psychopomp spirits appeared. They were tall, beautiful women holding hunting bows. I immediately thought of the Wild Hunt and felt that they were loving hunting for souls to transition. They said “we are like the Valkyries” and then talked to me about soulmates. They explained that part of why it is important to transition earthbound spirits is because your soulmate is a part of our own soul that has split off. That part needs to be reunited at some point to determine the soul’s next steps in its journey. They showed me a beautiful ball of bright golden-white energy and I watched as a part of it split from the whole. 

Through a soul journey today, I revisited the place where I found the PA Dutch souls and worked with the Valkyrie-like spirits to transition them into the Light. Afterward, I went down a rabbit hole into Urglaawe mythology, and boy did it make sense with what I had experienced.

Let me start by saying that for me, the Wild Hunt is over by now. The Hunt is a massive earthbound spirit transitioning event – or more accurately “events” – that occur from Samhain (October 31st) through the Winter Solstice (December 21st), and occasionally, through to Imbolc (February 1st). But then comes the Light Half of the year and I am back with the living more than the dead – although I still do psychopomp work, just not in as great of numbers. 

For the Urglaawe, the Wild Hunt – called the “Wildi Yacht” is still occurring. It runs from “Allelieweziel” (October 31st) through “Walpurgisnacht” (April 30th). The Wildi Yacht is headed by the goddess Holle, the main deity in Urglaawe who processes the souls of the dead between lives. She is a “Wane” (Vanir) goddess who oversees the life, death and rebirth cycle. She finds souls who have fallen out of the cycle of reincarnation (the Lewesraad cycle) and helps them to get back on track, so to speak.  Holle in Old World Germanic lore was the goddess of fertility, rebirth, weaving and agriculture, as well as a sky and weather goddess who was one of the leaders of the Wild Hunt.

Urglaawe practitioners believe that Holle takes the souls of the dead to her mill (or hall) called “Die Miehl.” There Holle separates the soul into its part – the “Urleeg” (Orlog in Norse tradition), the “Hoch” (the Higher Self), the “Glick” (Luck or Hamingja in Norse lore) and the “Folyer” (the Fetch or Fylgia in Norse mythology). The Glick, Hoch and Urleeg sometimes remain together or are separated after life into new “constructs,” essentially new incarnations, for the spiritual development of the soul. At the mill, the Folyer is also freed to find a new incarnation to attach to.  

Remember the soul I saw splitting in my dream – this may be what I witnessed! Soulmates might not be another person but instead a piece of our own soul that we seek to be reunited with if we split apart during a particular incarnation for soul learning. This reuniting cannot happen if one part of the soul does not transition, but instead stays earthbound. Perhaps people are looking for their soulmate in others when they have always been really seeking a part of themselves. It is interesting to contemplate.

The Urglaawe faith believes that Holle has always been a part of Braucherei – especially when the healing work is connected to lost souls. Holle’s role as a psychopomp has a long history in Old World Germanic folklore through her role as a leader of the Hunt.  

As a Wane goddess – a “Vanir” deity – she is connected to fertility, wisdom and magic.  Fertility is another way of saying – the growth of nature. From Allelieweziel to Walpurgisnacht, Holle is on the Hunt – finding the souls of the deceased in order to transition them; and after Walpurgisnacht, during the Urglaawe Light Half of the year, she tends to the fertility of the land.  I have long believed that psychopomps are both life and death beings – helping souls to be released from Earth in fall and winter to provide the energetic room for new souls, and therefore new life, to be guided to the Earth in spring.  Life and death are two sides of one coin.

I believe that the Valkyrie-like women in my astral dream were helpers of Holle on the Wild Hunt with their bows. I felt blessed that they shared their knowledge and wisdom about soul parts and soulmates. In the Urglaawe faith, the Valkyrie are the “Walkyrie” – semi-divine female spirits whose role is generally not to bring the slain to Valhalla, as is it in mainstream Heathenry.  They are less defined, thought to possibly be death harbingers like the banshees of Irish lore, guardian spirits, or…wait for it.. “soul hunters” who find the dead and take them to deities to begin the rebirth process.  The stately women with their bows makes sense in Urglaawe lore. 

I want to thank the Urglaawe Walkyries who took the time to share their wisdom and blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of their Hunt. Hail Holle! And hail the Walkyries! 


~ “The First Book of Urglaawe Myths,” by Robert L. Schreiwer (2014)

~ “A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology” by Robert L. Schreiwer & Ammerili Eckhart (2012)


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner on February 14th. Some theorize that this holiday is connected to the ancient Roman holiday of Lupercalia (Feb. 15th), and of course to St. Valentine, a Christian martyr.

But this post isn’t about Lupercalia or St. Valentine. It is about the sweet, chubby baby cupids we often see this time of year. These winged spirit babies are actually called the “putti.” They are connected with Eros the Greek god of love and desire, whose Roman counterpart is Cupid. Cupid was originally depicted as a young man but over time took on the appearance of a putto.

I honestly never heard of the putti before today! And I wasn’t even planning on posting an article for Valentine’s Day. But my spirits had a different idea.

If you have read other posts of mine, you may know that I am a psychopomp – a healer of the restless dead (ghosts). I met the putti today during a soul rescue, but my story with the putti really begins a couple days ago.

Recently, I have had left hip pain. Yes, I have seen my doctor and thankfully I am on the mend! But as a psychopomp, I like to treat my ailments not only physically, but also spiritually and energetically. Given I attract a lot of earthbound spirits as a soul rescuer, I wanted to see if there were any lingering around that area of my body.

Sure enough, my guides showed me a little boy spirit who was on my hip – just how a child would be carried by his mother. When I tapped in deeper, I saw a group of children spirits. I called upon the mother goddesses to help and the beautiful children were transitioned into the Light to peace.

Fast forward to earlier today. I wanted to do a check-in to see how my hip was doing energetically. I saw the spirit of a man lingering in that area. He had metal crutches that he used to walk as if he had MS or other degenerative muscle disease. I talked with him, offered him energy healing, and open the Light. It was then that the putti appeared. They lovingly put him on a cloud and flew around him just like in an old painting. Their energy was incredible. I immediately felt light-hearted, filled with love, carefreeness, and playfulness. I have been in their incredible energy ever since.

It was only after finishing the soul rescue that I realized that Valentine’s Day was this week. It seems no mistake that my experience with the putti coincided with the energetic time of year that they are most associated with in our culture. I felt so blessed to have met the putti and be encompassed by their beautiful energy of love. It also seemed to be no coincidence that I helped young children spirits to transition and then had these beautiful baby spirit guides appear the next day.

The putti are considered to be beings of pure love. This is what I felt when I was with them. This Valentine’s Day, consider connecting with the putti and their beautiful energy of light-heartedness, love and play. Who doesn’t need more of that in their life!

You can connect with the Putti through a meditation where you simply respectfully invite them in with a heart open to love. I hope you have the opportunity to meet the putti this Valentine’s Day!

Cailleach Firewood Meditation

Happy Cailleach Day (Feb. 2nd)! Above is a drawing I did of Cailleach a couple years ago. Cailleach is the Irish and Scottish goddess of winter and weather who sometimes ventures out on Imbolc to gather wood. If the day is sunny and pleasant, Cailleach will collect firewood and extend winter in order to use it. But if the weather is bad, she will remain asleep through Imbolc and spring will soon arrive.

If this reminds you of Groundhog Day on February 2nd – you would be correct! They are similar traditions. Weather divination was common this time of year. The Christian name for Imbolc holiday is Candlemas. We get Groundhog Day from German immigrants who came to America and brought a similar idea as the Celtic story of Cailleach – that what happened on Candlemas would foretell whether spring was coming or whether winter would be longer. Those German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and gave us Punxsutawney Phil!

I sometimes do a meditation this time of year to meet the goddess Cailleach. My intention is to see whether I am internally ready for springtime or wherher I still need the rest, reflection and slower pace of winter? Is my spirit ready to come alive with inspiration and activity, or am I still dreaming my next year into existence? Am I ready to emerge from hibernation or do I need a bit longer in the wintery dream world?


For this meditation, I simply envision that I am walking down a path through the woods. I pay attention to whether I am seeing signs of spring or winter. The signs reflect where I am at internally.

I come to a clearing, where Cailleach is standing. I pay attention to whether she has a bundle of firewood in her hands or not. This is another symbol of my internal space.

I then spend time communing with Cailleach. Sometimes we will take a walk and gather more firewood (reflecting that I need more time in winter energies). Other times, we will sit around a fire and chat (reflecting that is not the time to gather more wood but instead to use the last of it). I will do a bit of spirit divination work through asking Cailleach any burning questions I may have or advice on things I am facing. I always give an offering prior to calling upon a deity. During and at the close of my interaction, I thank the spirit for their presence and any information or healing they have provided.

This meditation is so simple but a great way to do an internal check in this time of year!

Creating a Magic Mirror for Imbolc House Clearing:

A long time ago when I was only 12, I had a beautiful dream of being in an ancient forest where there was a small cottage. I was invited inside and discovered that the cottage was connected to my ancestors. A female ancestor dressed in Victorian era clothes asked me to sit down. She opened an old photo album and began to show me various black and white pictures. She said “These are your ancestors and they love you more than you know.” That dream has always stayed with me.

After creating the mirror in the picture to this post, I journeyed – or hedge rode in witch lingo – to discover how I should use it. I was taken back to my ancestral cottage. My ancestors showed me that the mirror could be used as a portal, and could pull into it, any unsupportive energies or unquieted spirits in my home.

The energies and spirits would be drawn into a large cauldron in the kitchen of the ancestral cottage. Any unquieted spirits wishing to transition, would then travel up the steam from the cauldron into the Light. But if there were any truly harmful spirits, they would be placed in bottles (spirit traps) and put on shelves in the cottage’s kitchen.

Lately, I have been posting different clearing methods ahead of Imbolc (February 1st) – the next turning of the wheel. Imbolc is an auspicious time to do some “spring cleaning,” including energetic clearing and blessing your home.

For the ancient Celtic people, Imbolc was the start of spring. Creating a magic mirror portal is one way to clear your home after the long winter months when unsupportive energies can accumulate and become stagnant.

You will notice almost immediately how the energy of your home changes after doing a bit of clearing work! Using a mirror clearing portal is a very effective tool but does requires a bit of ground work. Below is a simple method that you can try!


  1. Choose a small mirror and energetically clear it using your chosen method (for me, that is an herbal smoke clearing).
  2. Set strong intentions that your spirit allies take you to a place in the spirit realms (through hedge riding) were you can send unsupportive energies and any harmful or unquieted spirits in your home.
  3. Perform a hedge ride (a journey into the spirit realms). Allow your intuition and spirits to guide you to a place where you can send unsupportive energies to be recycled and any unquieted spirits to be transitioned or banished. Once you have a clear idea of the place and any ally spirits who will help you with your clearing work, strongly intend that your mirror be connected to that place creating a portal.
  4. Be sure to set strong intentions that the mirror only goes one way – pulling unsupportive energies from your home into it but not allowing any back.
  5. Create or intuit a sigil that you can draw with your finger on your mirror to open the portal for use. I simply draw a spiral.
  6. Once you open your mirror portal, place it in a central location in your house and simply leave it there to clear the space. I leave the mirror in the living room or on the dining room table.
  7. When you feel your house is clear, close the mirror portal. I simply envision double doors closing and locking. Afterwards, be sure to thank the spirit of your mirror and the spirits of the place you have connected your mirror too.

I hope you will enjoy creating your own magic mirror for clearing work!


I have a positive view of snakes. Snake energy is often thought of as “life force” energy, and in certain cultures, the spirit of the land. Medusa, the snake haired Goddess, has been a long-time spirit ally of mine. Over the years, she has taught me how to incorporate “snake” energy into my clearing and protection practices. I often employ snake spirit wisdom during ritual clearing baths to empower and amplify my intentions.

Ahead of and on Imbolc, is the perfect time to do clearing work. “Imbolc” means “in the belly.” It is a time to prepare and blessing the land and soil for planting – and a time for existing seeds deep in the earth to germinate under the snowy ground (“the belly” of the earth). This is why clearing your spaces is so vital this time of year – because we all want the intentions (seeds) we plant to flourish. In yesterday’s post, I included my base ritual clearing bath (At least 2 cups of Epsom salt and as much Florida water as you feel called to add). Today, I want to share some tips for powering up your clearing bath using snake energy.

Channeling Snake Energy: Connecting to the spirit of Snake as snake itself, life force energy, or the Goddess Medusa, is a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of your ritual cleansing bath. Light a candle or leave an offering to the spirit of snake as a thank you.

Snaking Movement: When you do a clearing bath, dunk every part of your body under the water. Be sure to dunk your head at least 3 times. As you do so, make a snaking movement to shake off unwanted, unhealthy and unsupportive energies, and clingy disincarnate spirits.

Hissing: Making a hissing sound is very powerful for clearing and banishing unwanted energies and spirits. I use this after each dunking of my head. I close my eyes and hiss as I intend all unsupportive, unwell and unwanted energies and disincarnate spirits be banished. I watch as the hissing pushes these energies away and then envision a double door closing. As the door closes, it snaps the cords between myself and unsupportive energies.

Shedding Old Skin: Lastly, starting at your head, take your hands and push down and away, any remnant, unsupportive energies that are stubbornly clinging to your aura. Envision like a snake, you are shedding old skin that no longer serves you.

A Ghost Rescue on Hecate’s Night

November 16th was Hecate’s Night. This eve honors the goddess of magic, the crossroads and mist. Among her goddess aspects are guiding souls to the Underworld – think of Persephone – and protection against harmful spirits. 

On Hecate’s Night, I was unable to take time to honor Hecate in the way that I had planned due to a family matter. Instead, I shifted gears and thought, “my spirit allies want my time, gratitude and service” more than a ritual. They want a relationship based on mutual respect and reciprocity. This idea has always been the backbone of my personal spiritual and intuitive practice. 

I took a few minutes to quietly thank Hecate for appearing in my dreams in early summer, for working with me through summer and fall, and for her presence as an ally. I expressed that our relationship is important to me.

Later that night, my older son came into my room. He said “Mom, I just had sleep paralysis. I think there is a spirit in my room. I was getting goosebumps on my leg”  I went into his room, and sure enough there was the spirit of a teenage girl. Half asleep, I mentally told the spirit to leave my son alone. I had a feeling that the girl was still present but hoped that we could get to the morning, when I would attempt to transition her spirit.

My son is aware that I am a psychopomp – also called a rescue medium, soul or spirit rescuer, or deathwalker.  A psychopomp is a healer of the restless dead. Soul rescuers guide earthbound spirits into the Light – the portal that takes them to the Heavens, Land of the Ancestors, Summerlands or higher spiritual plane. 

So how did my son know that there was possibly a restless spirit present? Because my son has been inadvertently learning about spirits through our conversations over the years. He knows that there are certain signs when a restless spirit is present but also that there is nothing to fear.

After all, earthbound spirits are simply human souls that were captured by their intense unresolved emotions, attachments or confusion at death, causing them not take the Light. They are not evil or bad – they are only human.

The symptoms of an earthbound spirit that my son experienced were:

  • Sleep paralysis 
  • Waves of goosebumps on his legs
  • Uncomfortable feelings and imagery

Now just to be clear, earthbound spirits do not cause sleep paralysis itself. It is a biological function that prevents us from sleep walking when we are dreaming. But the dream world is part of the astral planes where earthbound spirits reside and sometimes restless spirits interact with the living during dreaming. They create frightful or uncomfortable images, sounds and feelings to feed off the emotional energy of fear produced by the living person. When this happens, it can cause a person to become conscious, (but still immobile) in their dream state, as the amygdala (the part of the brain that registers danger) recognizes the presence of another as an intruder.

Waves of goosebumps are also not always earthbound spirits – but they are spirits. Sometimes goosebumps are guides or ancestors – but sometimes they are restless souls. You will notice that I say “waves of goosebumps” which is different from regular goosebumps produced by the cold. My son experienced them on his legs, a common place to have these waves when it is a minor or earthbound spirit. In this case, it was both. 

Later that night, my son came in again and said that he felt the spirit pull his hair and he could sense the spirit at the head of his bed. I was awake at this point and went about trying to help the spirit.  

I closed my eyes and immediately saw a majestic stag with fire lit on each point of his antlers, like candle flames. Then three women in headdresses appeared holding lights, followed by many young women holding similar lights. I immediately thought of Hecate, a triple goddess. I felt she had appeared in her triple form to help the young teenage girl to transition.

I was curious whether Hecate was associated with stags and found that in certain mythologies – she is a triple goddess with Selene and Artemis (also known in her Roman form as “Diana”).  Artemis is the goddess of the Hunt and one of her symbols is the stag.  

It was not lost on me that I had been working with the “Wild Hunt” (a Samhain to Yule supernatural event) since before Samhain for the mass transition of earthbound souls. Artemis-Diana appearing seemed both connected to Hecate’s Night and to my work with “the Hunt.” 

Artemis is known as the protector of maidens and is described as being accompanied by a band of maidens nymphs. In my vision, the three goddess-like women were followed by a group of young women holding lights.

I then connected to the young teen girl’s spirit to see why she was earthbound. I instantly felt that she did not trust men. She showed that she had gotten a tattoo on her arm without her father’s permission. When he found out, he broke her arm. She continued to tell me more about her abuse. My heart went out to this beautiful young girl and I knew that Hecate/Artemis had appeared to help this young maiden finally find peace. 

Artemis is the maiden form of the Hecate triple goddess of Artemis-Selene-Hecate (maiden, mother and crone) and was present to bring an energy and spirit of protection of maidens – I believe to make the teenage girl feel safe. All the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

I offered the young woman healing and opened the Light. I watched Artemis help her onto a stag. The band of spirits rode off into the Light. 

I may not have had time for the ritual I had planned to Hecate, but by offering my gratitude and my service, I was able to be a part of helping a beautiful young woman find the peace that she deserved after a traumatic life. I wanted to share this experience to honor my relationship with Hecate and Artemis, and hopefully to impart the message that it’s ok if life intervenes in our plans.  Our spirit allies understand life is busy, sometimes hectic and chaotic, and what is in our heart is more important than a perfectly planned ritual or remembering an offering. Relationship is what our spirit allies desire – our companionship, reciprocity and gratitude for their presence in our lives. 

Journey to the Norse Land of the Dead (Helheim) For Ancestral Healing

Helheim is the land of the dead in Norse mythology.  It is where the ancestors who did not die in battle reside (i.e., those who passed due to old age, illness, etc.).  Helheim is overseen by the goddess Hel or Hela, whose face has one side that is beautiful and the other skeletal or ghostly. This image represents that life and death are two sides of the same coin – always connected. 

During the journey below, you will meet your ancestral guardian mother (“Dis”) or mothers (“Disir” or “nornir”) and journey to Helheim to commune with your ancestors.  The Disir are your “fate mothers,”or “fairy godmothers,” to use a familiar term from folklore. Your Dis/Disir, if approached with respect and honor, will become great allies in your life.  They oversee the luck, abundance and fates of those in your family line.  Entering into a strong reciprocal relationship with the Dis/Disir, will positively affect all within your family, including yourself, your children and your children’s children.

Meeting your “fate mothers” helps to bring you closer to your ancestors and family wisdom. Your fate mothers often appear as one “Dis” or three “Disir” – like the three fates.  During my apprenticeship in Northern European magical practice, my Dis appeared as a giant cloaked woman.  She opened one side of her cloak and showed me that it held the memories of all my ancestors and their lives.  She was the keeper of my lineage – and its lessons and wisdom.  She showed me a vision of my ancestors leaving a beautiful wild coastline of rocky cliffs and evergreen trees. I could feel the intense sadness they felt at leaving their ancestral lands. Connecting with this past helped me to weave these family members more deeply into my ancestral practice and heal a longing that follows many in my family – a search for something that we can’t quite define. 

Your Disir are among your greatest allies in working through lineage issues and healing your ancestral lines.  Your Disir can guide you, or lead you to ancestors who can guide you, on what can be done to shift or heal your family line of unsupportive patterns or heal from ancestral traumas that may be affecting your family tree.  Connecting with your Disir will also bring you closer to your ancestors who individually and collectively are powerful spirit allies.  Your Disir can be called on for protection and guidance related to your fate and life, or that of other family members.

My efforts to connect with my Dis and my ancestors helped to heal the lingering ancestral sadness as I became a living keeper of the memory of my ancestors and their cultural heritage.  I wove elements of that heritage back into my family and life, and was guided to do ancestral healing work on my paternal side after journeying to Helheim.

The ancient Norse peoples believed in a malleable fate called “wyrd.” The wyrd was the web of fate that was woven for each person but could be unwoven and rewoven in a new form, thereby changing one’s fate and luck. Part of an individual’s “luck” (and therefore fate) was determined by the actions and lives of ancestors. This was called “orlog.” A person could have a beneficial orlog or one in need of correction.  One’s orlog can lead to positive or negative ancestral patterns being passed down over many generations. A journey to the Land of the Ancestors is an opportunity to explore your orlog and ask the advice of ancestors on how to maintain a positive orlog or right the ship for an unsupportive orlog.  The thin fall veil presents the perfect opportunity to take a journey to Helheim and commune with the ancestors for healing, guidance, or to explore your fate and luck!

The Journey to Helheim: 

  1. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and rhythmically. Spend a few minutes setting strong intentions that you will meet your Dis/Disir at the World Tree and journey to the land of the ancestors.
  2. Envision a mist rolling in and encompassing your entire vision. In your mind or out loud, chant the runes Raidho (journey rune) and Othala (ancestral inheritance rune) or any other runes that you feel called to use.
  3. When the mist clears, you will see a large ancient tree. This tree is Yggdrasil, the World Tree. But this tree is also you and your family line. After all, each of us is the World Tree at our core.
  4. Circle Yggdrasil three times counter-clockwise while strongly focusing on your intentions that when you are done circling, your Dis/Disir will be there to greet you.
  5. Take a moment and say “hello.” Thank her for her service to your family line and offer her something in exchange for taking you to the land of the dead to meet your ancestors. Tell her the purpose of your journey and ask her to guide you to the ancestors who can help answer your questions.   
  6. Let your Dis/Disir guide you to the land of the ancestors.  You may travel through a door in the tree or down its roots to the underworld, Helheim.
  7. You will eventually reach the river Gjoll and cross a crystal bridge to the gates of Helheim.  If any beings appear on the bridge or at the gates, greet them kindly and pay any toll. Do not over-offer or over-promise, as any offerings or tolls should be fulfilled by you after your journey to maintain positive relationships with the beings who you encountered. Lighting a candle or leaving an offering is often enough. 
  8. Once through the gates, ask your Disir to take you to the ancestors who you need to see and hear from most to answer your questions. Use your intuitive senses to obtain information, wisdom, healing or guidance from your ancestors. 
  9. You may be greeted by the Norse/Germanic Goddess of Death, Hel during your journey.  If she appears and extends her bone hand, shake it.  Thank her for allowing you into the realm of the ancestors and tell her that you will leave an offering or light a candle in her honor.
  10. After spending time with your ancestors, thank them for their guidance and their lives that helped make yours possible. 
  11. Travel back up or through the World Tree. Thank your Dis/Disir for giving you passage to the land of the ancestors and say goodbye.
  12. Circle the World Tree three times clockwise.  Watch as the mist rolls in again and when it clears, you are fully back in your body and the physical world. 
  13. Fulfill any promises made to any spirit beings during your journey.


“Psychopompery” (rescue mediumship) helps to heal earthbound spirits by guiding them into the Light that leads to a beautiful afterlife in the Land of the Ancestors, Summerlands or the Heavens. Through this healing practice, restless spirits – also called ghosts – can finally find peace. I wanted to share a few psychopomp practices you can do during the Samhain season (Halloween) when the veil is particularly thin.

Samhain is Gaelic and means “seed fall” or “summer’s end.” It marks the start of winter. This time of year is associated with the ancestors and also with the restless dead. A few beautiful psychopomp practices you can do this time of year (among many) are:

  1. Create an altar to the lost and forgotten dead (light candles for restless spirits, open the Light over it and invite earthbound spirits in your area to cross over throughout the season. Be sure to ward your space well if in your home.)
  2. Do a journey into your ancestral lines to help any ancestors who did not cross over. (Sometimes such ancestors become entrenched in the energy of the family line leading to lineage issues mirroring the struggles or perseverations of the earthbound ancestor.) If you are interested in one way of doing this work, please check out this prior blog post with a Samhain oak tree meditation for ancestral healing: https://vanessahanks.com/2020/10/31/healing-ancestral-karma-a-simple-powerful-oak-tree-meditation/
  3. Join the Wild Hunt – a boisterous band of spirits often led by a God or Goddess associated with the dead or the season. These spirits ride on horses and often have hounds with them. They travel over the countryside and gather the dead and sometimes those close to death. In my practice, this is a mass clearing event ahead of the new year where earthbound souls are transitioned in large numbers in preparation of new energies and spirits coming in during spring. (in Celtic Countries the Wild Hunt occurred at Samhain, while in Norse and Germanic tradition, it occurs during Yule time – I usually join the hunt at Yule with Odin but plan to join it through the time from Samhain to Yule with various deities if welcomed by them.)

I grew up sensing and experiencing the unquieted dead. I have been a practicing psychopomp for 10 years. Psychopompery it’s a beautiful, needed healing practice that has been mostly forgotten in the Modern age. I offer classes and mentorships in this soulful healing art.

I recently was interviewed by Amy Major, a world-renowned rescue medium who wrote the book “Towards the Light” and has a podcast on rescue mediumship called “Spirit Rescue Talk.”

The interview can be found at:


Casting the Clew – Imbolc Nicneven Divination

I have always loved the idea of “casting the clew” (a ball of yarn) for divination. This practice is associated with the Goddess Nicneven, the Queen of the Witches and Faeries in Scottish lore. In “The Flytting Betwixt Montgomerie and Polwart,” written in 1621, it states:

“Then a clear Companie came soon after closs,

Nicneven with her Nymphs, in number anew,

With Charms from Caitness and Chanrie in Ross,

Whose Cunning consists in casting a Clew…”

While there is very little known about Nicneven and the practice of casting the clew, it is believed to be a divinatory practice involving throwing a ball of yarn into a dark room or corner. As you pull the yarn back towards you, the future is gleaned. It is thought that the future would be drawn out of the darkness and revealed.

Working with the fates has always been associated with threads, string, spinning and weaving. Casting the clew may stem from such ancient associations.

But what does any of this have to do with Imbolc (Feb. 1st – the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox)? Nicneven is believed to ride like a storm with her band of witches, nymphs and faeries, not just around Samhain and Nicneven’s Night, but also between Imbolc and Lent.

This makes sense as some consider her to be the same as Cailleach – the Irish and Scottish goddess of winter and weather who sometimes ventures out on Imbolc to gather wood. If the day is sunny and pleasant, Cailleach will collect firewood and extend winter in order to use it. But if the weather is bad, she will remain asleep through Imbolc and spring will soon arrive. If this reminds you of Groundhog Day on February 2nd – you would be correct!

Imbolc is the perfect time to try “casting the clew.” This practice can be done in your mind’s eye or literally by sitting in a dark room or facing a dark hallway and throwing the clew (a ball of yarn) into the darkness. As you slowly pull back the string with your hands or in your imaginings – see what appears out of the darkness. Before casting, light a candle for Nicneven and set strong intentions for what you are trying to glean. Ask a specific question or set intentions that the images drawn out of darkness reveal what is coming from Imbolc through the spring equinox. Give this simple divination a try!